Nutritionists and health experts call kale a “superfood”, and it’s no longer a surprise. From lowering cholesterol levels to promoting bone health and preventing cancer risk, kale proves to be a veggie worth earning the superfood brand.
So, if you aren’t adding this superfood to your plate yet, you might find today a good time to start. Discover how eating kale can protect your bones, aid your weight loss efforts, and reduce your risk of diabetes and cancer.
We’ve also compiled in a handy list some yummy ways you can enjoy kale in a healthy diet!
What is Kale?
Kale belongs to the Brassica family along with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and turnip. This green, leafy veggie is native to Asian Minor and the Mediterranean region and has been cultivated and used for culinary purposes since 2000 B.C.
Kale is classified into different varieties depending on the type of its leaves. These include curly-leaf, bumpy leaf, plain-leaf, and leaf and spear (a cross between plain-leaf and curly-leaf).
Kale also varies in color from light green to purple to red, depending on its type. The most common varieties, however, include the Lacinato, Red Russian, and Salad Savoy.
Kale: Interesting Facts
Kale is super dense in nutrients! A cup of raw kale offers impressive amounts of vitamins A, C, and K! Aside from these essential vitamins, it is also loaded with calcium, magnesium, folate, fiber, protein, and iron.
Kale also contains lutein, a carotenoid vitamin that gives plants its color. This nutrient is known to promote healthy eyes.
Want to snack on a healthy treat? You can enjoy kale chips instead of sodium-rich potato chips! Baked kale chips are not only low in calories but are delicious and nutritious, too!
What are the Health Benefits of Kale?
There’s a good reason why kale is hailed as a superfood. It’s packed with vital nutrients and other essential compounds that allow our bodies to thrive. Here’s what makes this cruciferous veggie oh-so-healthy!
Kale lowers blood cholesterol
Many veggies that belong in the Brassica family are rich in phenolic compounds that combat various health conditions such as high cholesterol.
A recent study discovered that men with high cholesterol reduced their LDL or bad cholesterol levels by 10 percent after drinking kale juice.
The results of the study suggest that kale juice can lower the risk of coronary artery disease in men with hyperlipidemia.
Kale is beneficial for diabetes sufferers
People suffering from diabetes are more susceptible to vision loss. Thankfully, kale is here to the rescue! Not only is it rich with fiber but lutein and beta-carotene as well.
These important compounds found in kale support eye health, making it a wise food choice for diabetics.
It is also packed with other key nutrients such as potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, a known risk factor for diabetes.
Kale also contains manganese, an essential trace mineral that helps to control blood sugar levels in your body.
Kale promotes bone health
Kale is a rich source of vitamin K. In fact, a cup of kale contains more than 600 percent of the recommended daily allowance of this important nutrient! Vitamin K has been found to increase bone mineral density, and reduce the risk of bone fractures.
Kale combats inflammation
Aside from promoting healthy bones, vitamin K found in kale is also prized for its anti-inflammatory properties. The superfood is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and sulforaphane, which help prevent inflammation.
Kale helps to rid your body of toxins
One of the important nutrients contained in kale is potassium, which is considered the cellular detox mineral. Potassium works to eliminate waste from your cells, cleansing your system so your body can function optimally.
Kale suppresses appetite
Kale is also thought to promote weight loss. Like other healthy veggies, kale is high in valuable nutrients and low in calories.
A cup of raw kale only has 33 calories in it. This nutritious veggie is also rich in dietary fiber, which leaves you feeling satiated for longer, reducing appetite and cravings.
Kale prevents the risk of cancer
Kale has also been linked to reduced cancer risk. Many of the nutrients and vital compounds contained in kale such as vitamin K, flavonoids, and other antioxidants fight against inflammation and oxidative stress.
Inflammation and oxidative damage contribute to a higher risk of cancer.
Kale promotes healthy hair and skin
If you think kale is only good for your inside, well, there’s more to it that you probably don’t know yet. The significant amounts of beta-carotene found in kale are converted into vitamin A by your body whenever necessary.
This essential nutrient promotes tissue growth, including hair and skin. Vitamin A also plays an important role in sebum production that helps to keep your hair and skin moisturized.
Aside from skin and hair health, vitamin A supports the vision, immune function, and reproductive function as well. But that’s not all because kale is also rich in vitamin C, another vital nutrient that helps to produce and sustain collagen.
Having adequate amounts of vitamin C can synthesize collagen, a protein that supports the structure of your bones, hair, and skin. Since kale boasts a great amount of vitamin C, it helps to promote and maintain healthy skin and gorgeous hair!
How Can You Add Kale to Your Diet?
The good news is, you can easily reap the health perks of kale because it’s so simple to add to your diet! Below are some tasty tips on how to use kale to make yummy meals:
Make a kale side dish
All you need is to saute kale in olive oil with some fresh garlic and onion to create a yummy side dish!
Bake your own kale chips
Baked kale chips are a healthier option than potato chips. You only need to spray kale leaves with some olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Add any herb or spices of your choice for that extra flavor. Bake for 10 to minutes at 350 degrees, and snack on!
Add kale to your salads
You can use kale instead of lettuce in your salads, too! Just remember to take out the stems because they can be tough. Kale stems also taste bitter if consumed raw. You can whip your favorite salad dressing for that extra tasty goodness!
Make a kale smoothie
You can also enjoy a green smoothie using kale. After de-stemming the kale put it in a blender pitcher together with an adequate liquid such as water or milk.
Blend until you achieve a juice-like consistency. Add the other ingredients that you want, like apple, celery, and flax seeds, and then blend again.
What are the Potential Risks of Consuming Kale?
While kale boasts an impressive nutritional profile and a wide array of health benefits, like other superfoods, it may interact with certain health conditions and medications, too.
Take note of these potential risks before adding kale to your diet:
Kale, along with its cousins in the Brassica family, may have interactions with thyroid function if consumed in high amounts. If you have thyroid problems like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, it’s best to consult with your doctor first about adding kale to your diet.
It’s also best to avoid kale consumption if you are taking blood thinners like warfarin. Making sudden dietary changes is not advised, especially if you are taking such medications. Adding foods rich in vitamin K like kale to your diet may interact with these medicines since vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting.
If you have kidney problems, it is also advised to moderately consume potassium-rich foods like kale. Kidney problems make it difficult for your body to get rid of excess potassium from your blood, which may have adverse effects on your health.
While there are rare cases, some people might be allergic to cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage. If you have a certain veggie allergy, it’s highly advised to avoid consumption to prevent adverse effects.
Kale is so nutritious that it has earned an amazing reputation when it comes to promoting optimum health. Luckily, enjoying kale in a nutritious diet is a breeze!
You can make a green kale smoothie, add it to your healthy salads, or incorporate it into your favorite recipes.
Probably one of the best ways you can enjoy kale is by baking it for a nutritious snack. It will give you that crunchy, tasty grub that’s absolutely nutritious!
To make it even more nutrient-dense, you can use extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil for baking your kale chips.
The bottom line is, kale is certainly one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It makes a great addition to a well-balanced, healthy diet, especially if you want to boost your nutritional intake and overall health and wellness.